PPS Fault Can Am Defender: Common Causes and Fixes Simply Explained

PPS Fault Can Am Defender

The PPS fault code is one of the most common issues Can Am Defender owners encounter. But what exactly does PPS stand for and what causes it? In short, PPS refers to the Pickup Position Sensor which reports issues with spark timing. It’s often triggered by a failed sensor, bad wiring connections, faulty stator, or worn spark plugs.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover what the PPS fault code means, explain the common causes, walk through diagnostic steps, and give you a simple process to locate and fix the problem completely. Read on to get your Can Am Defender running smoothly again!

What Does the PPS Fault Code Mean?

Let’s start by demystifying what PPS stands for and why the fault occurs in the first place.

  • PPS stands for “Pickup Position Sensor”. This sensor monitors the crankshaft position and piston movement.
  • It reports these timing details to the ECU (engine control unit) which uses the data to set perfect spark timing for ignition.
  • If the sensor isn’t providing accurate timing information, it will trigger the PPS fault code.

Essentially, PPS indicates there is an issue with the sensor or ignition system that is preventing correct spark timing. The most common causes include:

  • Failed or malfunctioning crankshaft position sensor
  • Damaged wiring or loose connector related to the sensor
  • Weak or fouled spark plugs
  • Faulty stator not providing adequate power

When any of these parts have a problem, it creates misfires, uncontrolled ignition timing, and other issues that then trip the PPS code.

What Are the Most Common Causes of PPS Faults?

Now that you know what the PPS fault means, let’s explore the most common root causes in more detail so you can systematically track down the problem.

Crankshaft Position Sensor Failure

The crankshaft position sensor is one of the most likely culprits of PPS fault codes. This sensor monitors exactly when the crankshaft reaches top dead center (TDC). It then sends this position data to the ECU to set spark timing.

Over time, the position sensor can fail and be unable to provide accurate timing signals. This will directly cause the PPS fault.

You’ll want to carefully inspect the crank sensor. Check for damage, exposed wiring, or bent/corroded electrical connectors. Use a multimeter to test its internal resistance and compare to factory specifications. If it’s out of spec or visually damaged, replace it with a new OEM sensor to resolve the problem.

Damaged Wiring and Connectors

The other common issue related to the crank sensor is damaged wiring or loose connector terminals.

The sensor relies on intact wires and solid electrical connections to transmit its signal back to the ECU. If there are exposed or broken wires, corroded pins, or loose connectors, it can interrupt the sensor data.

Carefully inspect all wiring related to the crank sensor. Look for chafing, bare wires, cracked insulation, etc. Ensure the connector is fully plugged in and secured. Wiggle it to check for looseness. Spray electrical contact cleaner into the connector to remove any corrosion present on the pins and terminal ends.

Replace damaged wires or harness sections as needed. This will restore a solid electrical connection to the sensor and ECU.

Weak or Fouled Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are another frequently overlooked cause of PPS codes. As spark plugs wear or become fouled after prolonged use, they can begin to misfire under load.

This results in incorrect ignition timing and unsteady RPM, mimicking the effects of a bad sensor. The ECU then assumes it is a sensor issue and triggers the PPS fault code.

Inspect your Defender’s spark plugs periodically. Check for a worn, rounded center electrode, excessive deposits, oily fouling, etc. Measure the plug gap and ensure it is within the factory specified range for your model year.

Replacing worn out spark plugs with a fresh set of OEM iridium plugs can help resolve misfires and rough running conditions that lead to PPS faults. Adhering to the maintenance schedule will help avoid spark plug issues down the road.

Faulty Stator

The stator plays an important role in powering the ignition system. It contains windings that output AC voltage to run critical components like the ECU, fuel injection, sensors, and ignition coils.

If the stator output is weak or starts to fail, it can disrupt spark timing and trigger the PPS code.

Test the stator’s output voltage using a multimeter probe on the wiring harness. Compare to the factory specifications for your model year. If it is lower than the specified voltage range, the stator will need replacement to restore full ignition power.

Now that you’re familiar with the most common PPS causes, let’s go through the systematic diagnostic steps to isolate the problem part.

How to Diagnose the PPS Fault?

When the PPS warning first comes on, don’t panic. With some basic diagnostic tests, you can quickly get to the root of the problem. Here is a step-by-step process for diagnosing PPS faults:

Step 1 – Scan for Fault Codes

Connect a compatible scan tool to access the Defender’s computer and read the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) stored in memory.

Take note of any other codes that may be present in addition to the PPS one. This will help reveal related issues and zero in on the fault location.

Step 2 – Inspect Wiring and Connectors

Visually check over all wiring related to the crank position sensor, stator, ignition system, etc.

Look for damage like chafed wires with bare copper exposed, cracked insulation, signs of melting or pinching damage.

Ensure the connectors are fully seated. Wiggle them to check for internal pin looseness. Spray electrical contact cleaner into the connectors to remove any dirt or oxidation present.

Proper electrical connections are critical for the sensors and ignition components.

Step 3 – Check Resistance of Crank Position Sensor

Use a multimeter to measure the sensor’s internal resistance between the signal and ground terminals. Consult your Defender’s factory service manual for the exact specification.

Compare your measured resistance to the factory spec. If it is outside the specification, the sensor has failed and should be replaced.

Step 4 – Monitor RPM and Ignition Timing

With the scan tool connected, take the Defender for a test ride. Monitor the RPM signal and ignition timing readings during acceleration.

Check for erratic RPM fluctuation and timing variations. This can help identify wiring faults impacting sensor signals.

Step 5 – Test Stator Voltage Output

Use a multimeter to backprobe the stator connector while the engine is running. Measure and note the AC voltage readings on each winding wire.

Check if the output is lower than factory specifications. A low stator voltage can cause ignition problems.

Following this diagnostic process will help you pinpoint whether the crank sensor, spark plugs, stator, or related wiring is causing the PPS fault code.

Step-by-Step Fixes for PPS Faults

Once you’ve diagnosed the problem, follow this process to complete the repair:

Step 1 – Repair Wiring and Connections

If you found any damaged wiring or connectors during diagnosis, make the needed repairs first.

Replace seriously damaged wires or harness sections. Solder and seal any exposed wire spots. Clean dirty connector pins and reinforce the terminal fit.

Proper electrical connections are critical before doing further troubleshooting.

Step 2 – Replace Crankshaft Position Sensor

If the crank sensor failed your resistance test or showed visible damage, replace it.

Install the new sensor and make sure the connector clicks fully into place. Route the wiring away from hot or moving parts. Clear all codes and test drive to confirm normal sensor operation.

Step 3 – Change Spark Plugs

For weakened or fouled spark plugs, remove each one and replace with new iridium plugs gapped to factory spec. While removed, inspect the condition of each cylinder.

Reinstall them correctly and connect the coils. Be cautious not to overtighten and damage the threads. Fresh plugs will restore a strong spark.

Step 4 – Replace Faulty Stator

If the stator output voltage was out of spec, the stator will need replacement. Consult the factory service manual for the involved removal and installation procedure for your model.

Take care not to damage the stator or rotor when separating them. Transfer over any components needed for the new stator assembly and connect all wiring.

Best Practices to Avoid PPS Faults

Preventative maintenance is key to avoiding PPS faults and other problems down the road:

  • Inspect connections related to ignition components regularly. Look for corrosion or loose pins.
  • Check and change the spark plugs at the factory recommended intervals. Use OEM plugs for best performance.
  • Test stator voltage output annually as part of scheduled maintenance. Replace if low.
  • Change the crank position sensor every 2-3 years or 20,000 miles as prevention.

Following the factory maintenance schedule and looking for signs of wiring damage or wear will go a long way towards preventing that dreaded PPS fault code.


Dealing with Can Am Defender PPS fault codes can be frustrating. But armed with the diagnostic tips in this guide, you can quickly track down the root cause in your wiring, crank sensor, stator or spark plugs.

The step-by-step troubleshooting and repair process outlined here will save hours of headache trying to pinpoint the problem part. Refer to this article to get your Defender running smoothly again after a PPS fault occurs.

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